Four passengers were killed last Saturday night when a New Jersey Megabus driver crashed into the railroad bridge over Onondaga Lake Parkway in New York. Numerous caution signs were posted warning the double-decker bus of the height restrictions. It is unclear whether the driver failed to see the signs at 2:30 in the morning, but investigators suspect that no drugs or alcohol were involved in the fatal accident.
What is clear is that the driver was lost and, against policy, used his personal Global Positioning System. The driver claimed that he was using the GPS device installed in the vehicle by Megabus to find his way back to the Regional Transportation Center. Senior vice president of Coach USA which owns Megabus, said the authorized and installed GPS system contains no mapping software. The GPS system installed in the bus only sends information back to the company's office.
The district attorney said he would not prosecute until an accident reconstruction analysis had been made and the driver's blood was tested. The driver faces a possible traffic violation for failure to obey the posted warning signs. The Onondaga County Sheriff said that investigators were researching whether or not he could also be charged with hitting the bridge himself. As of right now, the driver has been suspended without pay until the investigation has completed.
A New Jersey resident was one of the four passengers who were killed in the accident. Of the two severely injured passengers, one remains in critical condition while the other was pronounced stable. All other passengers made it safely home to their destinations some with only minor injuries.
While this is not the first accident involving the railroad bridge, it is the first fatal accident. Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said in a letter to the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council which pleaded for more safety measures. "While we recognize that no road in any jurisdiction can be made completely accident proof. Saturday's accident absolutely points to the fact that more can and should be done to make this corridor safer," the letter said.
Source: Syracuse.com, "Update: Megabus driver was using personal GPS in crash that killed four on Onondaga Lake Parkway" Douglass Dowty 9/14/10